Tell Canadian senators not to pass “Pope Day” bill!

Theobromine of CFI Canada, regular commenter here and elsewhere on FtB, passed along this change.org petition asking the Canadian government to reconsider the private member bill which has passed the House of Commons on its third reading, and is now apparently in the Senate. The bill would honour Pope John Paul II, who attempted to intervene with Chretien and gay marriage, who spent his 25 years as pope furthering the Catholic causes of undermining human rights worldwide, who misspent those same 25 years doing absolutely zero for the children being abused under his watch, with a designated day of celebration in his name.

Bill C-266 is a Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East—Cooksville). It recently passed third reading in the House of Commons, and is currently before the Senate (more information here).

By signing this petition to oppose Bill C-266, you are showing your commitment to the principles of human rights for all, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, and gender. An email will be sent to Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella, and James Cowan, leader of the opposition in the Senate. We encourage you to contact other members of the Senate, by phone, email, or post – contact information is here.

You can find a record of how MPs voted on this bill here.   We encourage you to thank your MP for voting “NAY” or to protest your MP’s “YEA” vote; MPs’ contact information is here.

To:
Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate
Honourable James S. Cowan, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate
Honourable James S. Cowan, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

The designation of a day for Canada to officially recognize Pope John Paul II is inconsistent with the goals and values established and promoted by the Government of Canada.
While John Paul II was a charismatic figure, his record as leader of the Catholic Church is full of scandal and poor management. Barbara Blaine, head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) group, points out, “In more than 25 years as the most powerful religious figure on the planet, John Paul II did almost nothing to safeguard kids.”
Pope John Paul vigorously supported the Catholic Church’s opposition to contraception, abortion and homosexuality. He personally intervened to advise Jean Chretien against introducing legislation to allow same-sex marriage. His edicts against condom use undermined worldwide public health efforts to control the spread of AIDS.
For these reasons, I ask you to refuse to pass Bill C-266, the bill that would that establish April 2nd as Pope John Paul II Day in Canada.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

I can’t stress enough how odious and antithetical to the causes of humanitarianism and charity and every positive trait the worldwide community knows of Canada as a country. Honouring the past Pope would undermine everything we claim to hold dear as Canadian citizens. Go vote. I’m doing so, as a genuinely concerned Canadian citizen who dearly wants my nation to uphold my values, even if I’m not living in the country any more.

I signed the following:

Everything Pope John Paul II stood for is antithetical to Canadian values. His views on so-called moral issues like abortion, homosexuality and AIDS were anti-science, anti-reality, and anathema to more enlightened views on how society should interact ethically. I see no reason, except as a sop to religious sentiments, why a “Pope Day” would in any way be a good fit for Canada or for Canadians. I think honouring people for their stances against basic human rights and civil liberties is blinkered, and the MPs who voted for this should be ashamed of themselves.

Thou Shalt Pirate Pornography

A few people are pointing this out as an example of some of the religious hypocrisy endemic in organized Catholicism. While they’re making a good case about it — this is in fact hypocritical, if you consider piracy stealing — I’d rather point out that this makes these people every bit as human as anyone else. They are not special, they are not sacred, and they are not better than anyone else in any way.

What am I talking about this time? Another sex scandal, perhaps? Well, tangentially, maybe. But in this case, it’s priests admitting to downloading DVD screeners of yet-unreleased movies, and logs of holy men downloading some perfectly ordinary lesbian and BDSM pornography.

But not just any holy men… the IPs in question belong to people inside the Holy See.

Helped by Scaneye, TorrentFreak decided to take a look at the recent downloading habits of people living in the most religious city-state in the world – the Vatican.

The Vatican is a small place so downloading levels are very low. However, we did notice that one particular IP address came up a number of times, on each occasion linked to TV shows such as Chicago Fire, Lightfields, The Neighbours and Touch. Another IP address showed an interest in The Americans.
[…]
In the interests of science we researched each of the titles (including the curiously named RS77_Episode 01) and discovered that downloaders in the Vatican have one or two unusual ‘niche’ interests. We won’t link to our discoveries here, but feel free to do your own ‘research’ using the titles shown above. There isn’t a commandment that covers these films directly, but some might argue there should be.

[Read more…]

Thoughts on Savita

Savita Halappanavar, an Indian woman living in Ireland, was refused an abortion during a complicated miscarriage at 17 weeks because the fetus — unviable though it was — still had a heartbeat. When abortion was the only recourse to save the mother’s life, the doctors refused, telling her and her husband “this is a Catholic country”. The abortion was finally performed after the baby died two whole days later, but it was too late for Savita. As a direct result of that delay, she died of septicemia. She would have survived if the pregnancy had been terminated at the first sign of complication. Hell, she could have been saved if doctors had simply prioritized the heartbeat of the viable human being over the unviable one.

People around these parts have vented their frustrations already. Brianne reinforces the fact that atheism intersects reproductive rights (and thus human rights — reproductive freedom is not only a feminist ideal, but a human rights one!). Ophelia lays the blame for the needless death squarely at the feet of Catholicism. Zinnia decries the theocratic dystopian nightmare the country has evidently become. Avicenna wonders why the country is so faithful despite the innumerable Catholic pedophilia and abuse scandals in the country. Dana points out that the Catholics ignored one entity with a heartbeat in favour of another, for no ready reason. But Stephanie nails that reason — the doctors, being good Catholics, let Savita die because she was failing at her one duty: making babies.

I barely have anything I can add to this collective howl of outrage except, maybe, a bitter and jaded sigh. And a request of adherents.

[Read more…]

Comparing movement atheism and Catholicism on matters of misogyny

Silentbob posted an excellent comment on one of the last threads that I think really cuts through a lot of the pushback with regard to cleaning up our own houses. It’s not about who’s “good enough” to be part of our “exclusive club”, it’s about acknowledging problems when there’s overwhelming evidence that those problems exist, and fixing them. Given that we’ve attacked the Catholic church so often for their issues with child molestation, even though MOST PRIESTS AREN’T CHILD MOLESTERS, one would think that we would recognize the need to acknowledge the problem of antifeminism and outright misogyny even though MOST ATHEISTS AREN’T MISOGYNISTS.

The comparison my be odious, but I suggest an analogy with the paedophilia problem in the catholic church.

Atheists, of course, strongly condemn this behaviour, but are we not almost as appalled by the church’s response, which is typically to trivialise, dismiss or conceal the problem? How do we react when the church says, “Oh, but this is just a few isolated incidents! You shouldn’t condemn the whole church. Most priests aren’t paedophiles. Why make such a fuss? Focus on the good, not on the bad!”. Aren’t we especially disgusted when they resort to blaming the victim? When someone within speaks out and acknowledges the problem, don’t we praise them?

There is a misogyny problem within the atheist movement. It is well documented. Let us not trivialise, or dismiss, or sweep the problem under the carpet. Nor complain that is it isn’t representative of the atheist movement as a whole. And most of all, let us not blame the victim. We must do just what we would expect of the church – focus on the problem, highlight the problem, condemn the problem in the strongest possible terms, and set about fixing it. The people who have been doing this should not be attacked for exaggerating the problem, or for calling the movement into disrepute. They should be thanked for the courage to take a stand.

We must hold ourselves to a higher standard than we would hold those we oppose.

I’ve also elsewhere likened it to people being told they have cancer, but instead of treating it, they demand that doctors stop talking about your body being “full of cancer” when it’s really just one tumor, and really the tumor is teeny-tiny, no bigger than 0.01% of your body mass!

Can we just deal with the tumor please? Is that so hard?

Meet the new Mohawk saint

A reader named Dan sent in this tip, telling me that the Roman Catholic Church is about to pressgang their very first Aboriginal saint into service. Kateri Tekakwitha, who was baptized at age 20, declared herself God’s wife, fasted and self-flagellated and slept on thorns, and evangelized Christianity to her fellow Mohawks. And now, three hundred and fifty-odd years after she died, she’s apparently curing little boys of flesh-eating disease.

In 2006, a Washington State boy, about five years of age, hurt himself while playing basketball.
The young boy bumped his chin on the ground and ended up contracting Flesh Eating Disease.

Unfortunately, the only treatment for the disease is amputation and the doctors had gotten to a point where they couldn’t do anything for the boy after removing much of his face.

Eventually a priest was brought in to anoint the boy for healing purposes and then spoke with the parish, asking them to pray to Kateri, who is known as a healer.

[Read more…]

Because I’m an atheist

I’ve been an atheist since I was 13. This is well before I knew the word, or the implications, though I had a vague inkling that a lot of people were probably wrong about a lot of things. When I further realized that my own parents counted among those people, I figured it was a very bad idea to let anyone else know what I thought about theology.

Several years ago, my sister came out to me as gay. The way she approached it was to ask me, “what is the worst possible thing you could imagine me telling you about myself?” I joked, “that you vote Conservative.” So, she apparently took that as an indicator that I’m safe, and came out of the closet.

Read the rest of my story at the perennially excellent Crommunist Manifesto.

(And I’m not just saying that because he complimented me. Seriously. Ian’s got writing chops. All of the chops.)

Three years later, Catholic church strips child porn consumer Lahey of his Bishop rank

If there’s one thing about the Catholic Church I absolutely love, it’s how timely their justice is. Three years after being convicted of caught red-handed importing child pornography, former Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, NS, has been stripped of his bishophood and dismissed from the clerical state in “one of the most serious penalties that the Roman Catholic Church can impose”, according to his former Diocese.

The decision means Lahey, a former bishop of Antigonish, can no longer work as a cleric nor preside at any religious services or sacraments.

“This decision reminds all of us of the serious harms that come from all forms of pornography, especially child pornography,” Antigonish Bishop Brian Joseph Dunn said in a statement.

“It also means that this action concludes both the criminal and canonical processes that are connected with this matter.”

Emphasis mine. I guess we’re lucky they didn’t also try to implicate Teh Gay Menace at the same time somehow!
[Read more…]

Catholics’ protest against HHS contraceptive rules completely misfires

So Catholic officials are up in arms about the US Department of Health and Human Services’ new regulation requiring all employers to provide contraceptives to insured employees with no co-pay. The very idea that people who use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy might actually not have to pay for those contraceptives is evidently so anathema to the very foundational dogmas of the Catholic church, that the leaders of said church must absolutely take a stand for their parishioners. To wit:

In a letter read to congregants in the Atlanta Archdiocese, Archbishop Wilton Gregory called the policy “a matter of grave moral concern.”

“In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty,” the letter continued and was read at all English and Spanish language Masses, the diocese said in a statement.
[…]
“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan in a statement.

“To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty,” said Dolan who is also the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the public policy arm of the church in the United States.

And yet…

And yet I wonder.
[Read more…]